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Red Sox Top Prospect Voting: Chris Murphy looks to prove 2020 was no fluke

It was a terrific 2019, but he still has to prove it was real.

Chris Murphy
Kelly O’Connor;

After a run of six straight position players starting with Matthew Lugo at number eleven, things are starting to point back to the mound as we continue with a run of pitchers. It’s not quite to that level of the position players, but it’s getting closer. We have our fourth straight pitcher this time around, and he beat out a close race with another arm. Coming in at number 20 on our list is Chris Murphy, grabbing 46 percent of the vote.

Murphy was not a super high-profile prospect coming out of high school, and was not drafted as he was heading for college. He ended up going to San Diego University, but never did a ton to stand out there, at least by the results. The southpaw also spent a summer in the Cape Cod League, but again the numbers didn’t quite jump off the page. In his first two seasons at college plus that stint on the Cape, he never posted an ERA below 4.00 and always had major walk issues. He did improve that ERA to 3.50 in his junior spring in 2019, but the walk issues were still there. The stuff was impressive, but there wasn’t enough elsewhere to get high marks heading into the draft. He was ranked as the number 155 prospect by Baseball America and ended up falling to the Red Sox in the sixth round.

As Murphy transitioned to the pros, there was something close to a consensus that his command issues were going to push him to the bullpen, and perhaps sooner than later. However, San Diego did not have a great reputation for developing pitchers, and the Red Sox thought they might be able to find a tweak or two to get more out of Murphy. They sent him to Lowell in the summer of 2019, and the early returns show they may have been right. Murphy made ten starts and tossed 33 13 innings with the Spinners, pitching to a 1.08 ERA with 34 strikeouts. More importantly, he only walked seven for only 1.9 per nine innings. In his junior year at San Diego, for reference, he walked six per nine innings.

The adjustment made with Murphy wasn’t really too much in the way of his arsenal, as he had the makings of a starter’s repertoire even in college. There’s always room for new pitches and adjusted grips and all of that, but the team first focused on his delivery. It wasn’t a major overhaul, but the changed how he worked his lower body in his motion and moved his arm slot up a little bit. The numbers show how that changed, and after just a few starts in short-season ball there’s more optimism than ever that he may be able to stick as a starter. The southpaw throws a good fastball that sits in the 92-93 range and can get a bit higher than that at times when he needs the extra velocity. Additionally, he has a good curveball and changeup, though both are still a little raw.

If and when the 2020 season gets underway, Murphy will be among the most interesting prospects in the system. The 2019 summer was certainly impressive, but it was also a small sample against very raw competition. A 2020 season in full-season ball against more polished hitters will be a real test, and it will be fascinating to see how he adjusts.

Here’s our full list:

1. Jeter Downs

2. Triston Casas

3. Bobby Dalbec

4. Bryan Mata

5. Noah Song

6. Gilberto Jimenez

7. Jay Groome

8. Jarren Duran

9. Thad Ward

10. Tanner Houck

11. Matthew Lugo

12. C.J. Chatham

13. Connor Wong

14. Nick Decker

15. Cameron Cannon

16. Marcus Wilson

17. Aldo Ramirez

18. Brayan Bello

19. Ryan Zeferjahn

20. Chris Murphy

Now, you can head down into the comments and vote for the number two. As a reminder, to do this you go down below and find the comment from me corresponding with the player for whom you’d like to vote. When you find said player, just click the “rec” button, and that will count your vote. To do this, you will need to be logged in as a member of the site. If you’d like to vote for a player who is not listed, just leave a comment saying “Vote for ___ here” and I’ll rec the comment to count your vote. Until next time...